Background Music: 8-bit Orchestra

Ever get absolutely lost in a game’s soundtrack? With the increased capacity of game media, like DVD and Blue-ray disc, it’s become much more commonplace for games to include epic, fully performed / orchestrated music. Of course, there’s been great game music in all periods of gaming history, whether the music was a masterfully sequenced chip tune or prerecorded by a live orchestra.

Over the years I’ve found myself drawn to many games by their amazing music, and I’d like to share a few of those games (and their music) here so that you might also find some enjoyment in them. I’ve actually found so many game soundtracks that I like, I’ve collected them in a series of installments from different eras of video game history, starting with 8-bit systems and below.

Many of the soundtracks for the games listed below can be found online, and can be listened to as MP3’s or via a plug-in for Winamp, and I’ve provided links to these resources where possible. Plug-ins for Winamp which allow you to play the raw music files of games can be found at Zophar’s Domain, which is an excellent source of a lot of different video game utilities.

Sega Master System

Not a particularly strong performer in the music department, the SMS had a few games that really took music to a new level among the other games on the system. Though repetitive, and not particularly lengthy or diverse, the music on the SMS could be catchy at times, and like all good game music, would often get stuck in your head long after you’d finished playing. Here are a few of the stronger performers, from games I’ve played long, long ago – you can find the raw music files for at least one of these games in the GMS section of Zophar’s Domain.

  • Aztec Adventure
  • Penguin Land

Nintendo Gameboy

My library of games for the Gameboy was quite small. Despite this, I thoroughly enjoyed the games I had, and even found that a few of them had some fantastic tunes within. The GBS section at Zophar’s Domain includes links to music files for both of the games listed below.

  • Super Mario Land 2: Six Golden Coins
  • Super Mario Land 3: Wario Land

Nintendo Entertainment System

The NES seemed to have a better sound system inside than the SMS, but the tunes included in most of its’ game were all just as repetitive, short, and above all, catchy. Whether we bought the games or only rented them, my brother and I bumbled through a decent portion of our childhood constantly humming the music from many NES games. Perhaps that’s why I can still remember half of the music from these games, almost 20 years later! You can find files for many of the games listed below in the NSF section at Zophar’s Domain.

  • Chip & Dale’s Rescue Rangers
  • Ducktales
  • Maniac Mansion
  • Mega Man 2
  • Super Mario Bros. 3
  • Tetris

That should do it for my list of favorite 8-bit music! Feel free to mention other game soundtracks you’ve enjoyed in the comments below, and be on the lookout for the next post sometime in the future, which will cover my favorites from the 16-bit era.

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